For good reason, the second and third days of the Battle of Gettysburg have received the lion's share of attention from historians. With this book, however, the critical first day's fighting finally receives its due. After sketching the background of the Gettysburg campaign and recounting the events immediately preceding the battle, Harry Pfanz offers a detailed tactical description of events of the first day. He describes the engagements in McPherson Woods, at the Railroad Cuts, on Oak Ridge, on Seminary Ridge, and at Blocher's Knoll, as well as the retreat of Union forces through Gettysburg and the Federal rally on Cemetery Hill. Throughout, he draws on deep research in published and archival sources to challenge many long-held assumptions about the battle.
About the Author
Harry W. Pfanz is author of GettysburgThe Second Day and GettysburgCulp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. He served for ten years as a historian at Gettysburg National Military Park and retired from the position of Chief Historian of the National Park Service in 1981.
Read an Excerpt
Fredericksburg to the Potomac
Its drums were beating, its colors flying, as the 900 officers and enlisted men of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, "beaming in their splendid uniforms," filed from their camp at Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was a beautiful morning on 15 June 1863, and the 26th, with its three sister regiments of Brig. Gen. James Johnston Pettigrew's brigade, was heading off on its first campaign with the vaunted Army of Northern Virginia. "Everything seemed propitious of success," recalled a veteran in later years. It was heady stuff for the virtually unbloodied Tarheels who had been guarding the coastal areas of their native state from Federal invasion. But in a month their uniforms would be worn, and the North Carolinians would learn that war can be horror and hardship as well as beating drums and flaunted colors.
Table of ContentsPreface
Introduction. Fredericksburg to the Potomac
Chapter 1. Ewell's Raid
Chapter 2. Lee's Army Concentrates
Chapter 3. Meade's Pursuit
Chapter 4. Meade and Reynolds
Chapter 5. Reconnaissance in Force
Chapter 6. Reynolds's Final and Finest Hour
Chapter 7. Cutler's Cock Fight
Chapter 8. McPherson Woods
Chapter 9. The Railroad Cut
Chapter 10. Noon Lull
Chapter 11. Howard and the Eleventh Corps
Chapter 12. Ewell and Rodes Reach the Field
Chapter 13. Oak Ridge
Chapter 14. Daniel's and Ramseur's Brigades Attack
Chapter 15. Daniel Strikes Stone
Chapter 16. Schurz Prepares for Battle
Chapter 17. Early's Division Attacks
Chapter 18. Gordon and Doles Sweep the Field
Chapter 19. The Brickyard Fight
Chapter 20. Heth Attacks
Chapter 21. Retreat from McPherson Ridge
Chapter 22. Seminary Ridge
Chapter 23. Retreat through the Town
Chapter 24. Cemetery Hill
Chapter 25. Epilogue
Appendix A. John Burns
Appendix B. The Color Episode of the 149th P.V.I.
Appendix C. Children of the Battlefield
Appendix D. Order of Battle
What People are Saying About This
GettysburgThe First Day continues Harry Pfanz's superbly researched, beautifully written, and exquisitely detailed study of the battle. The three volumes now in print comprise a great classic, and the best Gettysburg material ever published.Robert K. Krick, author of Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain and Lee's Colonels
No one knows and understands the battle of Gettysburg better than Harry W. Pfanz. Since he joined the National Park Service as a historian in 1956, he has never been far from what for the public is America's best-known and most controversial battle. His credentials as a researcher, raconteur, and historian par excellence are attested to by his applauded books on the battle's second and third days. Now, thanks to Pfanz and the University of North Carolina Press, GettysburgThe First Day fills a void and completes in masterful fashion a trilogy long needed and guaranteed to stand the test of time.Edwin C. Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus, National Park Service
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mr. Pfanz book is not for the faint of heart. It is for the hardcore fan or historian. For all of those that have read other books about Gettysburg and always wanted to know more about the fighting on the individual days this is the book for you. Mr. Pfanz breaks down the whole first days action in detial. This will apeal to military leaders as well. For me individually it was great and a book that I enjoyed. Going through each action in detail gave new insight into what and why it happened on that fateful July morning. Ewell's delay is explained in detail as well as the controversy between Hancock and Howard as to who really did rally the union soldiers on Cementary Hill. This was new to me as I never had heard of this debate before and the controversy lasted long after the battle as well. If you new to Gettysburg or a seasoned fan,I'm sure you'll find new insight into the battle like I did. I also recommend the other books written by Harry W. Pfanz.
I eagerly anticipated reading this lastest book by Mr. Pfanz. In his earlier books covering Gettysburg and the events of July 2nd, he often broke that action and movements of men and equipment down to a company or individual level. This book offers little of that in-depth research that marked his previous efforts. We are introduced to the various generals and some of the enlisted personnel. But, the actual movement of the troops and their subsequent positioning in the battle are left to a more generalized scope. If you are interested in a cursory examination of the events of July 1st, this is your book. If you seek the high level of detail that Mr. Pfanz provided in his July 2nd books, you will be disappointed.
If you are a re-enactor or a museum curator building battlefield dioramas, you will want this book. Who else will want to know that the 36th stood to the left of the 47th? Poorly written and verbose, this book is long as such tediouness and short on synthesis, analysis and insight. My advice: look elsewhere.